>>NARRATOR: The U.S. Agency for International Development is partnering with countries around the world to make life-saving health services accessible to more people. In Nepal, a country of 29 million, an innovative program run by the Ministry of Health and Population empowers tens of thousands of volunteers to deliver basic maternal and child health services in rural communities where there are no other health workers. Salyan is a remote place in the mid-western hill region of Nepal. The people who live here –like rural villagers in the plains region to the south, and in the rugged Himalayan mountain region to the north– are far from any government health services. The closest health facility is typically a
sub-health post, which is the lowest-level facility that provides formal health care. Only by walking, or being carried, can one get there. The journey can be challenging and can take anywhere from an hour to several days. With the support of USAID through coordination with the Government of Nepal and other donors like UNICEF and UNFPA, Nepal has trained and supplied 50,000 women volunteers. There is one from every village across the country, and they serve as front lines health workers right where people live. Volunteers receive 18 days of training that prepares them to deliver
a combination of education and services at the community-level, with a focus on reducing the devastating maternal and child mortality rates that exist in Nepal. Each month, health volunteers hold group meetings, primarily for expectant and new mothers. Using flipcharts and demonstrations, critical health information is explained… …such as the importance of hand washing to prevent disease, how to prevent excessive bleeding during delivery and what to do in an emergency. Between the monthly meetings, villagers may seek out health volunteers, whose houses are marked with a distinctive sign hanging above the door. Volunteers also make house calls. They treat, among other things,
diarrhea and pneumonia —which are Nepal’s top childhood killers. Twice a year, they dispense vitamin A to prevent childhood blindness and improve overall immunity. They also resupply couples with family planning commodities like oral pills and condoms. On a regular basis, services that have recently been provided to the community are reported and collected by the District Public Health Office and reported to the central level at the Department of Health Services. At the same time they do their reporting, volunteers replenish their inventory of drugs and other supplies, and may receive refresher trainings. The Female Community Health Volunteer program has made great strides in reducing the discrepancy between urban and rural populations’ access to health care. In large part due to this community-level program, Nepal’s health indicators for women and children have greatly improved. The local administration of vitamin A to more than three and a half million Nepalese children, itself saves the lives of an average of 15,000 children a year. With the support of USAID, Nepal is on track to achieve
the Millennium Development Goals of cutting the mortality rate of mothers by three-quarters and children by two-thirds
from 1990 to 2015. Made possible by the strong commitment of the Government of Nepal, the Female Community Health Volunteer program is a stunning example of how
“investing in people” can improve the health and well-being
of the rural poor, and it serves as an inspiration for community projects around the world.>>CHILDREN: Namaste!